Thursday, February 4, 2016

There's an App for that!

People often think Minnesota is a terrible place to live because of snow in the winter time. Well, I'd rather live in a place that knows what to do with it than one of the places that is rather totally unprepared to deal with snow.

This has been an easy winter actually. However, a snow storm moved further north than expected this week and we had a very messy Tuesday. I took the photo below around 4 PM in the afternoon before the snow had even ended. My balcony overlooks Robert Street. This is one of many streets classified as a snow emergency route which is plowed 24/7 until the snow ends and the street is cleared.  Streets such as this are continually plowed so there that vehicles such as ambulances and fire trucks can move through the city.

Clearing streets in an old city is more difficult than in the suburbs. The houses in the suburbs all have garages and so it is easy to clear a street for plowing. In the city there are many apartment houses that were built before everyone had cars. In these areas there is no where to park except on the street. For four years I lived in an apartment complex that was 21st century, but there is only one parking spot in the garage per apartment. So if there were two people in an unit with cars, one person had to leave the car on the street -- again a problem for snow plowing.

So to get around this a snow emergency is declared. In St. Paul a snow emergency begins at 9 PM at night. From that time until about 6 AM the next morning the east side of north-south streets are plowed. Plowing continues too on the snow emergency routes. The next day the east-west streets are plowed as well as the west half of the north-south streets. To help residents and visitors know where it is OK to park, the streets that are half-plowed at night have signs, on the correct side of the street, that say "Night plow route."

A snow emergency is announced every way possible -- e-mail, radio and TV announcements, phone messages-- to make everyone aware of need to move their cars from areas that are due to be snow plowed. And now for first time, beginning this week, there's an app for that.

To get information one puts an address into the map part of the app. Then the streets pop up and one can see what streets are OK for parking, outlined in green, and what streets are yet to be plowed. The map below shows the center city about 12 hours after the snow has stopped. One can see they are all outlined in green so parking is legal -- and since it's the center of city -- also if one pays for the parking place.

And the photo below was taken about 24 hours after the one at the very beginning of this story.

Wow! It is 5 PM and the sun is still shining. Spring will soon be coming. The building in the 9:00 position is Regions Hospital. The multi-lane roads is the intersection of I-94E and I-35E.

Addendum: Turns out this was the 5th largest February snowfall in the Twin Cities area.

No comments: